Ultraviolet (UV) light can dramatically reduce the spread of tuberculosis (TB), and it could cut TB infections by 70 per cent if it were installed in hospital wards and waiting rooms, researchers believe.
UV light can kill TB bacteria by damaging their DNA so they cannot infect people, grow or divide. It's even effective against drug-resistant strains. People get infected from TB when a sufferer coughs, spreading the bacteria in the air.
Researchers from Imperial College London and other institutions say the effectiveness of the light could be further enhanced if a fan was also in the room to help move the air around.
Around 9 million people are infected with TB every year, and 2 million die from the disease. Infection rates are highest where vulnerable people are crowded together, such as hospital wards and waiting rooms.
(Source: PLoS Medicine, 2009; 6(3): e43 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000043).